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Control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH)

visit milkingmachines.co.uk to buy milkingmachine spares and spare parts for milking machines on line.

COSHH aims to protect persons against risks to their health arising form exposure to substances hazardous to health. (Except where certain special cases take precedence)

The essential source of information about COSHH is the Approved Code of Practice for the COSHH 1994 regulations. The HSE has published many reference guides on the use and safe handling of chemicals, and you should have a copy in your possession.

The regulations came into force in 1989, and are intended to protect employees against the risk of exposure to substances hazardous to health, at work. The current requirements are given in regulations, of which there are 19 regulations in total. The key points are shown in the table:-

One important thing to remember is dairy chemicals are not covered by the same regulations as household chemicals, and this is very important when children have access to your farm. Children and chemicals

Regulation Topic

Interpretation In this context a substance is defined somewhat differently to the definition used in CHIP: it means a natural or artificial substance in any physical form ranging from single chemical compounds to micro-organisms, and therefore covers biological agents, dusts and allergens also. With respect to chemicals, substances hazardous to health (SHH) are defined as

  • those that have been classified as being very toxic, toxic, harmful or corrosive under CHIP
  • those substances which have maximum exposure limits (MELs) or occupational exposure standards (OESs)
  • substances that have effects such as carcinogenicity, mutagenicity or teratogenicity.

The regulation also highlights several important considerations:

  • the physical form of a substance is important e.g. solid or dust, fibrous
  • the presence of impurities of potential high hazard
  • the possibility of additive or synergistic effects from mixtures or sequential exposures

Employers and employees duties: in summary, this regulation demands that employers apply the regulations to the employees, and as far as reasonably practicable, to other people who may enter the premises or be affected by the work.


Assessment of health risks created by work involving substances hazardous to health.

This regulation is the one that all the other COSHH regulations support.

It is forbidden to carry out any work which is liable to expose an employee to a SHH, unless a sufficient assessment of the risks created by that work to the health of those employees has been made, and that the necessary steps to comply with the regulations have been taken. Further, that assessment has to be current, and relating to the practices in use. The risk assessment should include:

  • consideration of the substances in use, and their possible effects, and the possible means that exposure could occur
  • an estimate of exposure taking into account the engineering controls (i.e. barriers, venting systems, workplace design)
  • recommendations for action if any is necessary

The risk assessment must be

  • written and readily available to employees.
  • reviewed regularly and at least every five years
  • updated when work practices change in any way or new information arises.

In practice, it is vital to divide the whole work activity into separate tasks, that usually relate easily to work groups or areas.


Prevention or control of exposure to substances hazardous to health.

There is a hierarchy of controls:

  1. technical measures - elimination of hazardous substances
  2. engineering controls
  3. operational procedures
  4. personal protective equipment

This is a lengthy regulation, setting out what 'good practice' means. In summary it demands engineering controls to control exposure as far as reasonably practicable, and refers to the MELs and OESs listed in the HSE publication 'EH40 Occupational Exposure Limits'. Personal protective equipment (PPE) should only be used where engineering controls cannot be applied. PPE is described in SI 1992/2966.

An employer must ensure that exposure of employees to substances hazardous to health is either prevented, or, where this is not reasonably practicable, controlled. The interpretation of this is that control should be sufficient to reduce exposure to below the tabulated limits for the substance (inhalation), or to an equivalent standard for other routes.


Monitoring exposure at the workplace, where it is necessary.

11 Health surveillance, where appropriate to the hazard and the possibility of measurement of any effect. It is beyond the scope of the Atlas to describe this area (see the references).

Information, instruction and training for persons who may be exposed to substances hazardous to health.


Despite looking complex and frightening, the regulations are mainly common sense, and as long as you follow these general precautions you will have no problems.

  1. Read the appropriate Product Technical Information and Health and Safety Information Sheets before use, and any warning labels on containers

  2. Make sure you are familiar with the warning symbols.

  3. Do not swallow chemicals or breath fumes or dust.

  4. Do not smoke near chemicals.

  5. Take care when opening containers.

  6. Do not inhale chemical fumes.

  7. Store all chemicals away from sources of heat.

  8. Clean up any spillages immediately.

  9. If any chemicals are splashed on the skin, wash with soap and water.

  10. Do not use solvent type material in confined spaces.

  11. Should a person be overcome by fumes of any nature, remove to fresh air.

  12. Do not eat or drink in or near to areas where chemicals are being used.

  13. Always wash your hands before eating or drinking.

  14. Wash your hands both before and after using the

  15. Protective clothing should be worn where appropriate, and should be cleaned and inspected regularly.

  16. If any chemicals are splashed in the eyes, irrigate thoroughly with clean water for twenty minutes.


Cotswold Autodoser

We can supply automatic dosing systems for chemicals which eliminate the need for manual pouring, and also provide the following advantages:-


We can help with risk assessment and health and safety in the workplace and data sheets for chemicals.


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